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Why do big companies refuse to produce more oil and gas production?

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produce more oil and gas production

Major companies are refusing to produce more oil and gas production. The energy giants are still reeling from the recent collapse in oil prices and are unwilling to take risks.

Now that oil prices are much higher than $100/bbl, you can hear the question on every corner: why don’t the world’s energy giants take advantage of such a good opportunity and drill huge numbers of new wells to make billions on high prices?

The World Community is Asking OPEC to Produce More Oil

There are many reasons for this strange behavior, but analysts generally name three. Firstly, oil companies have not yet fully digested the trillion-dollar losses of the last decade. Second, expensive gasoline does not yet mean high profits for oil companies to justify the development of new fields. 

And third, the growing popularity of electric vehicles makes most oil companies satisfied with the bird in the hand in the form of already developed wells, which now bring good profits; rather than chasing the crane in the sky, i.e., super profits, the hunt for which carries huge risks. Will Saudi Arabia produce more oil? 

There is no definite answer. The first reason – the losses of the past years are mostly psychological in nature, but this does not make them any less strong. Because of the collapse in the oil markets in the middle of the last decade, oil companies lost over $1 trillion. For example, among the four oil giants covering all areas of the oil industry, from exploration of new fields to equipment and well maintenance: Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental Petroleum, Transocean and Halliburton, only one company – Shell – managed to make money rather than incur billions of dollars in losses in 2014-18.

It also answers the question of why Canada doesn’t produce more oil. The events of 2014-20 taught oil workers to be cautious and to always remember that high prices can collapse at any moment, and that a company that forgot about this and invested all its money in exploration and expansion of production is likely to go bankrupt.

Life has taught oil companies that it is safer to be conservative regarding costs, i.e. not to invest everything they have, no matter how much they might want to, in exploration and production. That’s why many oil companies have such low budgets for these items, despite the ideal market situation.

It might seem that you can forget about caution when prices are at, say, $120 per barrel, but the fact is that the oil markets are not ruled by arithmetic, but rather by higher mathematics.

For example, the oil markets are now in a situation described by the English word “backwardation,” when oil prices are currently higher than futures prices. In deciding whether to invest in new wells, an oil company director should analyze not the current oil prices. but the prices of the time when the first barrels of oil will be extracted from the new wells. If, for example, we are talking about the end of 2023, we can expect to be able to sell it for a maximum of $78 a barrel. That’s well below $97.5 a barrel on the spot market. Earlier, producers began to produce more oil as Iran’s supply fell. 

If you add conservative thinking to backwardness, it becomes more or less clear why new wells are not growing like mushrooms after the rain and why oilmen and investors are in no hurry to “bury” big money in the ground.

Situation in the oil markets is slowly changing

Despite the above-mentioned reasons, the situation in the oil markets is slowly changing. The number of working rigs has now reached a two-year high, and in the next few months it may reach pre-pandemic levels.

Production is growing very slowly, but still. But it is not growing fast enough if there is a collapse in oil prices. This means that the cash flows that oil companies are generating at the moment should continue indefinitely until demand drops.

Contributing to oil companies’ reluctance to take risks and invest in new production are electric cars. Last year, one in 12 new cars sold was electric (8.6%). Data for the first six months of 2022 suggest that this figure could grow by about 50%.

Naturally, such rapid development of electric cars cannot help but get on the nerves, and confidence of oil companies. Few people want to increase production when they realize that the main consumer of oil, i.e. cars, is increasingly switching to electricity.


Analysts at U.S. bank Goldman Sachs revised its forecast on oil prices

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oil price forecast

Analysts at U.S. bank Goldman Sachs, one of the most optimistic forecasts about the cost of oil, changed its earlier forecast about the growth of oil prices to $100 in the next 12 months, Bloomberg said.

Now analysts predict that Brent crude oil will reach $94 per barrel in the next 12 months and $97 per barrel in the second half of 2024, the publication said.

The bank said oil prices have fallen despite rising demand in China, given pressure on the banking sector, recession fears and investor withdrawal.

“Historically, after such traumatic events, price adjustments and recoveries are only gradual,” the bank notes.

This week, the situation surrounding Swiss bank Credit Suisse triggered panic in the markets as oil plummeted to a 15-month low and Brent crude fell 12% to below $73 a barrel.

After the price decline, the bank expects OPEC producers to increase production only in the third quarter of 2024, contrary to Goldman’s forecast that it will happen in the second half of 2023. Analysts at the bank believe a barrel of Brent blend will reach $94 in the next 12 months and trade at $97 in the second half of 2024.

Bloomberg reported that the largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, announced higher April oil prices for markets in Asia and Europe.

Earlier, we reported that Iraq and OPEC advocated for guarantees of no fluctuations in oil prices.

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Iraq and OPEC stood up for guarantees of no fluctuations in oil prices

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oil price fluctuations

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani and OPEC Secretary General Haysam al-Ghajs said coordination between oil-exporting countries is necessary to ensure that oil prices do not fluctuate in the market. the Iraqi government said in a statement on its website following the OPEC Secretary General’s visit to Baghdad.

“Oil-exporting countries need to coordinate their actions to avoid fluctuations in oil prices and their impact on both exporting and consuming countries,” the statement said.

Iraq is a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Also, Iraqi Oil Minister Hayyan Abdul Ghani said Sunday that the country intends to maintain the rate of oil production cuts of 220,000 barrels a day in line with its quota under the latest OPEC+ alliance agreement.

“We have committed some oil companies operating in the south to cut production to meet the agreed upon OPEC+ rates,” he said.

We previously reported that the price of Brent dropped below $75 per barrel for the first time in more than a year.

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The price of Brent dropped below $75 per barrel for the first time in more than a year

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Brent is falling fast

The price of Brent dropped. Contracts for Brent crude oil to be delivered in May 2023 dipped below $75 per barrel in trading on March 15, Intercontinental Exchange data shows. Below that mark, the price fell for the first time in more than a year – since December 2021. At its lowest price, Brent was $74.04 per barrel, $3.41 (4.4%) less than at the close of trading on March 14 ($77.45 per barrel).

Brent is falling fast for the third day in a row. The price of fuel has fallen by $8.74 per barrel (10.56%) for three trading days: On March 10 trading ended at $82.78 per barrel, and on the weekend of March 11-12, the exchange was closed.

The turmoil affects the price of oil in the banking sector. Collapse of shares of Swiss bank Credit Suisse on the background of its problems and the refusal of the largest investor to inject new money worried world markets and overshadowed hopes for a recovery in oil demand in China, wrote Reuters. Also, three banks in the U.S. have gone bankrupt or closed since early March, including Silicon Valley Bank, which was the nation’s 16th-largest. It became the largest collapsed bank in the U.S. since the 2008 financial crisis. Investors fear a new crisis: The risk of a U.S. recession has intensified amid bank problems, Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, told Bloomberg.

A statement from the Saudi National Bank, which owns 9.9 percent of Credit Suisse, that it could not make new investments put an end to signs that Credit Suisse had just begun to stabilize, Reuters noted. “Fears of contagion [of the entire banking system] are gaining ground. As a result, the dollar is strengthening and securities are weakening – bad signs for oil,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at oil brokerage PVM. “Credit Suisse and broader concerns about banks are negatively affecting sentiment. The outlook has suddenly become highly uncertain, and that’s hitting oil prices in the near-term,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at brokerage OANDA.

The price of U.S. WTI crude fell below $69 a barrel: that hasn’t happened since late 2021 either, Bloomberg noted. The International Energy Agency also took a pessimistic stance in its monthly report and predicted that global oil supply will “comfortably” exceed demand in the first half of 2023, the agency wrote. There are growing concerns that more than 10 years of “easy money” with a sharp increase in key rates at the end “will not end well,” Bjarne Schildrup, senior natural resources analyst at SEB AB, told Bloomberg.

Earlier we reported that oil prices accelerated their fall, continuing the trend from the beginning of the week.

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